Ryan was born a happy kid with a very big heart. He was one of those kids who just enjoyed life. He loved sports, especially the Red Sox. He enjoyed cooking, mostly because he loved to eat! He was a voracious reader, devouring every Harry Potter book as soon as it hit the shelves. He loved music and dreamed of being in a rock band one day. And Ryan was a ladies' man!
Most of all, Ryan was full of hope. He told his mom once, "I have 100% hope. I am the most hopeful person on the planet." He shared this hope, especially during his own cancer journey. Ryan was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma in 2004 at just four years of age. A low-grade fever and some pain while walking led to visits with the pediatrician and an orthopedist before blood work and bone marrow biopsies confirmed the worst.
Ryan fought through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, going through treatment at various locations from Boston, to New York, to Vermont, to Maryland. No matter where he was, he would spread his hope, reaching out to other children at the hospitals who had been recently diagnosed. Ryan lost his battle in 2011, but many of the nurses still talk about how he was the best patient they ever had. He trusted the doctors and nurses and did whatever was asked of him without complaint.
During his life, Ryan inspired others. One time, when his mom was making a donation to support cancer research, Ryan handed her his piggy bank to donate his life savings. He insisted on giving the money and his $80 odd dollars became an inspiring story that generated over $6,000. His mom shared the story on his CaringBridge page, and a friend reading it challenged everyone to match Ryan's gift. All of a sudden donations poured in. To this day, many of Ryan's friends continue to host events and fundraise to buy toys during December for children at the hospital. And of course, they come man the table at the annual Cookies for Kids' Cancer bake sale in Ryan's memory!
Ryan continues to inspire and his big heart is still very much here. He will always be The Amazing Super Ryan.